THVM ATELIER: THE ART OF COLLABORATION
"Success breed success" is something a
cheesy motivational speaker might say, but
"creativity sparks creativity" could easily
be the mantra of forward-thinking LA denim
label, Thvm Atelier.
Run by the creative duo Brian Kim and Olga
Nazarova, and under the care of CEO, Nicola
Scagnolari, Thvm Atelier know the value of
collaboration. Their LA office, housed in an
old paint factory, is a creative space that
is home to artists, musicians and fashion
designers. Similarly, they refuse to confine
their creative endeavour to fashion. In
addition to producing a magazine, Thvm Rag,
they have also recently opened a store
in the arts district of downtown LA.
We spoke to Brian and Olga about all of this and how an initial
obsession with denim set them on the road to where they are now.
Mark | oki-ni: It’s a broad question, but is as good a place to start as any: what inspired you to become designers?
Brian: Finding jeans during the early 90s was difficult for me as I was not able to fit into what was available in the market at the time. I started to tailor jeans that I bought, but quickly realized that I could just make them myself. Shortly after I made a few pairs, people began to ask me to make them jeans as well.
Olga: I have always enjoyed the process of creating something, not only the final product but the manifestation of the ideas.
Mark | oki-ni: One esoteric and one pragmatic response there; no wonder you work well as a team! As a denim brand, your jeans are very simple and clean. What is it about this no-nonsense approach that appeals to you?
Olga: When we design, we start at the core and decide what is necessary to how form or shape relates to function. Beauty is in the details and the details define the whole.
We design the line so that the refined details are subtle enough to appreciate but so that it does not interfere with an individual’s personal aesthetic. We keep the denim pure and simple. This way the jeans evolve after wear and the end result is completely dependent on a person’s lifestyle and daily habits.
Mark | oki-ni: It’s interesting that you view denim as a blank canvas that a person then imprints their personality upon.
Denim is really something that captures the imagination. It seems lots of designers cut their teeth making jeans. Why do you think this is?
Brian: For us denim is about fit and shape, and how the basic become part of a core wardrobe, styled with their favourite pieces to create their own look.
Denim is essential and everyone can interpret its heritage in their own way.
Mark | oki-ni: Thinking of heritage, lots of denim brands we work with are real nerds about the authenticity and accuracy of every minute detail - and proudly so. Would you put yourselves into this category?
Brian: It's par for the course. As I do all the patterns myself, a fraction of an inch can throw off the entire balance and shape. Understanding how the fabric works is very important.
Jeans are one of the only garments that can shape a person’s body into contemporary silhouettes.
I often think of how our history reveals our cultural interests and standards through the idealized form, and how we are constantly redefining the details of beauty.
Mark | oki-ni: One direct way that you support the artistic community, but also communicate your own ideas, is via your magazine, THVM RAG. Can you explain the idea behind it? Isn’t having a fashion label and a magazine just greedy!
Brian: We feel that people are more aware and informed about cultural movements now than ever in history. The lines between local and global, young and old, contemporary and antiquity are all blurred and are being re-contextualized. There are so many exciting, dangerous, and revolutionary points of interest now.
THVM RAG is a way for us to interpret these issues and concepts and open a dialogue. It's very inspiring for us to work on the magazine and we hope that other people become inspired as well.
Mark | oki-ni: And what's special about the latest issue?
Olga: For The Journal Issue we wanted to reveal the process and intimacy of creation, specifically what goes on in the artists mind and how an idea manifests into a piece.
Most of the images are direct scans of journals and notebooks. We have a feature on Ariel Pink and you can see what he was thinking of, what music he was listening to, and what ingredients ended up creating his "Odditties Sodomies Vol. 1" album.
[Brian and Olga have kindly given us copies of The Journal Issue to give away with orders of Thvm Atelier jeans. Shop as normal and, if you're quick, a copy will be included with your order]
Mark | oki-ni: I’ve been reading with interest about the opening of your new store. For someone who isn’t familiar with LA, can you explain where it is?
Olga: The space is located in the Art's District of downtown LA, just east of Little Tokyo.
The area has great food, bars, and lots of open space, which is good for the mind.
Our store is doing great and we are happy to see people coming to downtown and enjoying all the great new spots opening up.
Mark | oki-ni: I read that the space was once an old paint factory! How did you find it?
Brian: We first stumbled across the building about 6 years ago. It kept calling us back and we always wished that we could call it home. The owner of the building is our patron saint, in a way, and has turned the building into a creative space.
We asked our friends to move into the space with us and have started a collective. We Are the World have a recording studio here. Moonspoon Saloon
and Endovanera's studios are here, and artist Ishi Gilinsky has his studio in the space as well. Next door is LD Tuttle and Unearthen.
It's a great community and we often bounce off each other's ideas and push each other to always keep moving.
With their store up-and -running, Thvm Atelier have further increased the possibility for collaboration. The idea is to
re-merchandise the store every three months, giving the designers they choose to host a specifically-built space to
exhibit their work.
Success breeds success as creativity sparks creativity, and Thvm Atelier have both in spades. We wish them all the
best with their future ventures and will be watching intently.
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